McLaren Racing announced the addition of reigning NTT IndyCar Series Alex Palou to its driver roster for the 2023 season in the wake of an earlier announcement from Chip Ganassi Racing that contradicted the Spaniard’s accurate plans for the upcoming racing season.
Earlier on Tuesday, July 12, Chip Ganassi Racing issued a statement that the team had exercised its option to retain Palou for the 2023 IndyCar season. Not long after the news was released to the public, however, Palou took to social media to deny the announcement.
“I have recently learned from the media that this afternoon, without my approval, Chip Ganassi Racing issued a press release announcing that I would be driving with CGR in 2023,” Palou tweeted. “Even more surprising was that CGR’s release included a “quote” which did not come from me. I did not approve that press release, and I did not author or approve that quote. As I have recently informed CGR, for personal reasons, I do not intend to continue with the team after 2022. This evening’s unfortunate events aside, I have great respect for the CGR team, and look forward to finishing this season strongly together.”
Palou then unveiled the news through social media that he will be joining the McLaren Racing family for the upcoming racing season. The series which Palou will compete for with McLaren (IndyCar, Formula One and Formula E) is yet to determined, but he will be joining the organization’s F1 Testing of Previous Cars program.
“I’m extremely excited to join the driver roster for such an iconic team as McLaren,” Palou said in a released statement. “I’m excited to be able to show what I can do behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car and looking at what doors that may open. I want to thank everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing for everything they have done for me.”
Palou is currently campaigning in his third full-time season in the IndyCar Series, where he is ranked in fourth place in the drivers’ standings on a strength of four podiums through nine of the 17-race schedule. He trails teammate and points leader Marcus Ericsson by 35 points.
Palou joined Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2021 IndyCar season after spending his inaugural season in 2020 with Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh. In his first event with CGR, he achieved his maiden victory at Barber Motorsports Park in April. He went on to achieve victories at Road America in June and at Portland International Raceway in September while engaged in a season-long championship battle against Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward. When the season concluded at the Streets of Long Beach in September, Palou achieved his maiden IndyCar Series title and became the first Spaniard to win an IndyCar championship.
“We have always said that we want the best talent at McLaren, and it’s exciting to be able to include Alex on that list,” Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing, said. “I’m also looking forward to seeing him get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car as part of our Testing of Previous Cars (TPC) programme alongside Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta as we continue to build our driver talent. Alex is an incredibly talented driver who has won in every series he has raced in, and I’m happy to welcome him to the McLaren family.”
The addition of Palou is among a series of additions and re-signings made by McLaren Racing throughout this season, among which include Lando Norris, Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist. Norris is currently campaigning in his fourth full-time Formula One season while Herta, who currently competes for Andretti Autosport in the IndyCar Series in spite of having a McLaren contract, is coming off a two-day McLaren F1 testing session at Portugal’s Portimão Circuit. O’Ward, who is currently embarking in his third full-time season at Arrow McLaren SP in IndyCar, inked a three-year contract extension with the team in May while Rossi, who currently competes for Andretti, is set to join McLaren as the team’s second IndyCar competitor in 2023. Rosenqvist, who is campaigning in his second season at AMSP, signed a multi-year extension to remain at McLaren, though the name of his racing series for next season is yet to be determined.
McLaren Racing will unveil its full driver lineup across all motorsports regions at a later date.
With his plans for next season set, Palou continues his pursuit to defend his IndyCar title by competing in the upcoming Honda Indy Toronto at the Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada. The event is scheduled to occur on Sunday, July 17, at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Peacock.